Allegory of Virtue and Nobility
c. 1747-48
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696-1770)
On View

In this monumental painting, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo depicts the triumph of Virtue and Nobility over the vice of Ignorance, all three personified by female figures. Nobility, wrapped in saffron- and rose-colored fabric, and winged Virtue, holding a crown of laurels, look down with disdain at the tumbling figure of Ignorance, who is cast into shadows by a furious cherub. To the left, Fame blows a trumpet to announce the victory. For the elite viewers for whom the work was created, intellectual interest in the allegorical subject matter was matched with delight at impressive illusionistic effect—one of Tiepolo’s characteristic talents. In its original setting, fixed to the ceiling of a grand room in the Palazzo Dolfin-Manin in Venice, the painting would have altered the perception of space, seemingly puncturing the architecture of the palace to grant access to a mythological realm.


  • Artist Name: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696-1770)
  • Title: Allegory of Virtue and Nobility
  • Date: c. 1747-48
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 126 x 154-1/2 in. (320 x 392.4 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1972.26.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

Palazzo Dolfin-Manin, Venice, still in 1799.
Edward Cheney (d. 1884), Badger Hall, Shropshire, London and Venice, by descent to;
Alfred Capel-Cure, Badger Hall, Shropshire, by descent to;
Francis Capel-Cure, Badger Hall, Shropshire in 1894, sold 1932.
Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Florence, by 1935, by descent to;
Heirs of the Contini-Bonacossi Estate, Florence, sold 1972, through;
[E.V. Thaw and Co., Inc., New York, to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

[on loan]

  • Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, 1974 to

Reinstallation of Galleries: Art History of the 17th and 18th Century Gains Fresh Dimension

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-09-02 to 1995-08-13
  • McCorquodale, Charles, The Connoisseur, p. 211
  • Berenson, Bernard, The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance, p. 132/p. 126
  • Knox, George, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, fig. 15 pp. 65-72, 78
  • Pedrocco, Filippo, Giambattista Tiepolo 1696-1770, p. 156
  • Modern, Heinrich, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, eine Studie, 1902, p. 13
  • Sack, Eduard, Giambattista und Domenico Tiepolo: Ihr Leben und ihre Werke, 1910, no. 559 p. 228
  • Molmenti, Pompeo, Tiepolo: La vie et l'oeuvre du peintre, 1911, n. 1 p. 187
  • Vigni, Giorgio, Tiepolo, 1951, color pl. VI
  • Morassi, Antonio, A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings of G. B. Tiepolo, 1962, fig. 351
  • Palluchini, Anna, L'opera completa di Giambattista Tiepolo, 1968, no. 186, color pl. XXXII
  • Mostra del Tiepolo dipinti, 1971, fig. 52
  • University: A Princeton Quarterly, 1974,
  • Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America, 1979, p. 225
  • Barbin, M.; A. Delneri, A. Momo, M. Murraro and Dario Succi, I Tiepolo: virtuososmi e ironia, 1988, under nos. 32, 33 pp. 128-129
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 104, 105, cover
  • Succi, Dario, Giambattista Tiepolo: Uno straordinario capolavoro commissionato nel 1748 per il Palazzo Dolfin Manin a Rialto, 1992, fig. 3 p. 13
  • Gemin, Massimo; and Filippo Pedrocco, Giambattista Tiepolo: I dipinti. Opera completa, 1993, no. 381 pp. 104, 130-131
  • Alpers, Svetlana; and Michael Baxandall, Tiepolo and the Pictorial Intelligence, 1994, fig. 47 pp. 32-35
  • Barcham, W. L., Giambattista Tiepolo 1696-1770, 1996, fig. 52 pp. 134-147
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 829 p. 342
  • Knox, George, et al., La Serenissima: Eighteenth-Century Venetian Art, 2011, Fig. 30 p. 29
  • Renato Miracco, Italian Treasures in the U.S. An Itinerary of Art, 2014, p. #42
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Female Satyr Holding a Ewer Giovanni Battista Tiepolo c. 1730
Female Satyr with Tambourine Giovanni Battista Tiepolo c. 1730

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